The Emperor’s New Clothes

By popular acclaim this is the worst summer's weather ever. David Randall debunks that myth

Share
Related Topics

Drip, drip, drip, drip. Is it the sound of rain falling from drenched trees? The steady rhythm of overspill from blocked guttering? Or precipitation's drum-roll on the canvas of our tents?

No, it's the incessant noise of the weather whingers as their sense of climatic entitlement is foiled by an entirely typical British season. "This," they pout (and the tone of voice implies a hand on hip and the stamp of a tantrumy foot), "is the WORST summer ever!"

No it's not. It's not even close. It's not 1816, truly the "year without a summer", in which the ash and sulphur dioxide from the eruption of Tambora in the East Indies so dimmed the sun and toyed with weather systems that there were worldwide crop failures and food riots in England and Wales. It's not 1931, cloudy and wet from May to the end of September (highlights: a tornado in Birmingham, and Boston, Lincolnshire, getting a quarter of its annual rainfall in one morning). It's not as dull as 1954, short-changed from an average summer's sunshine to the tune of 130 hours, with poor old Plymouth having only one day warmer than 21C. Nor is it as stormy as 1956 (gales in July, snowploughs shifting hailstone drifts four feet deep in Tunbridge Wells). I could go on.

But I won't. What I will do is point out there are silver linings. The volcanic debris scattered around the upper atmosphere from 1816 onwards gave Turner fluorescent sunsets to capture in oils. And poorer summers are invariably followed within a year or two by exceptionally good ones – a sort of climatic clearing of the throat, if you like. This, regrettably not guaranteed or forecastable effect, meant that, after the lowering summers cited above, there were golden ones in 1819, 1933, 1955 and 1959.

So stop whining, and enjoy these months for what they are: a summer in which, as we head past the solstice, fields and hills are as green as you're ever likely to see them; a country in which the dessicated landscapes threatened by the pitiless heats of March have been saved by the soothing waters from summer skies. Above all, as the captain of the Titanic was reputed to have said when confronted with a rather more serious inundation: "Be British!"

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn